One of the convicts are now living in the United States and the other in Britain.
Britain-based Muslim leader Chowdhury Mueen Uddin and
Ashrafuzzaman Khan, a U.S. citizen, were found guilty of the
torture and murder of 18 people, descibed as Dhaka university
professors, journalists and doctors, during the war, lawyers and
tribunal officials said.
"Justice will be denied if they are not given death sentences for their heinous crimes," judge Obaidul Hassan told the crowded tribunal.
Lawyers representing Mueen denounced the verdict and said the court had staged a show trial. Both defendants fled Bangladesh shortly after it gained independence from Pakistan. One of the men, Chowdhury Mueen Uddin, settled in London, where he became a prominent Muslim leader, serving as a trustee for the charity Muslim Aid and as the director of Muslim Spiritual Care Provision in the National Health Service, says a Newyork Times report. He has said that he rejects "each and every charge leveled against me," and has refused to return to face trial because he did not expect a fair process.
The second man, Ashrafuzzaman Khan, moved to Pakistan, then to the United States after the war, and lived in New York, where he was active in the Islamic Circle of North America.The so-called intellectual killings took place in 1971, from Dec. 5 to 10, 1971, when it had become all but certain that Bangladesh would win independence from Pakistan. The three-judge tribunal called the killings "elitocide."
Bangladesh has been hit in recent months by a wave of violent protests over war crimes convictions, presenting the government with a security and credibility challenge ahead of polls early next year.The tribunal has brought down eight convictions so far, with six defendants sentenced to death.
Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina set up the tribunal in 2010 to
investigate abuses during the conflict, during which India helped
Bangladesh, then known as East Pakistan, break away from
Pakistan. Bangladesh became part
of Pakistan at the end of British rule in 1947
but it broke away from Pakistan in 1971 after a nine-month war.
Some factions in Bangladesh, including the Jamaat, opposed the
break with Pakistan, but the party denies accusations that its
leaders committed murder, rape and torture. Around 30 lakhs people
were killed during the separation.
Tribunal delivered its first verdict in January.
The PM's opponents say she's using the tribunal against the 2 opposition parties
The prime minister's opponents say she is using the tribunal against the two biggest opposition parties, the Bangladesh Nationalist Party (BNP) and the Jamaat-e-Islami, reports Reuters.
Bloodletting has erupted across the country since the tribunal's first verdict. More than 100 people have been killed in the clashes this year, most of them were Islamist party activists and members of the security forces.
Outside the courtroom, veterans of the war were among hundreds
of people who cheered the verdict.
So far, six former and current Jamaat leaders and two BNP leaders have been convicted.
The New York-based Human Rights Watch group has said the tribunal's procedures fall short of international standards.
(With agency reports)